Category: United Center

Review: Luzia (Cirque du Soleil)

Adagio from Luzia, Cirque du Soleil (2)            


Directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca
United Center, Parking Lot K (map)
thru Sept 3  |  tix: $35 and up  |  more info    
Check for half-price tickets   

July 29, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Kurios (Cirque du Soleil)

Cirque du Soleil's "Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities," written and directed by Michel Laprise, runs through Sept 20 at the United Center. (photo credit: Martin Girard)           

Written/Directed by Michel Laprise
United Center, 1901 W. Madison (map)
thru Sept 20 | tix: $35-$145 | more info
Check for half-price tickets   

August 25, 2015 | 0 Comments More

Review: Dragons (Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus)

Johnathan Lee Iversen - Ringmaster, Ringling Brothers Circus        

Written by Bradley Zweig
Directed by Shanda Sawyer
at All State Arena (map) and United Center (map)
thru Nov 25  |  tickets: $13-$25   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review

November 4, 2012 | 2 Comments More

Review: How To Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular! (United Center)

Rarmian Newton as Hiccup - How To Train Your Dragon, Dreamworks        
How to Train Your Dragon
       Live Spectacular!

Adapted and Directed by Nigel Jamieson 
at United Center, 1901 W. Madison (map)
thru July 29  |  tickets: $26-$141   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review

July 29, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Dralion (Cirque du Soleil)

An act from Cirque du Soleil's "Dralion" at Chicago's United Center. (photo credit: Daniel Desmarais)       

Written by Gilles Ste-Croix
Directed by Guy Caron
at United Center, 1901 W. Madison (map)
thru July 1  |  tickets: $28-$80   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review

June 30, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Ovo (Cirque du Soleil


Ovations for Ovo!


Ovo - Cirque du Soleil 5


Cirque du Soleil presents
Written and Directed by Deborah Colker
Grand Chapiteau Tent at United Center, 1901 W. Madison (map)
through August 21  | 
tickets: $60-$130  |  more info

Reviewed by Larry Bommer

Newly prosperous in a sixth visit to the United Center parking lot, the blue-and-yellow “big top” chapiteau of the Cirque du Soleil provides a happy home for the insectivorous marvels of Ovo, a show to make you itch with delight. Writer-director Deborah Colker creates a dazzling, inventive fantasy of eight-legged lives aspiring to become circus legends and literally hit the heights. As the first female director for Cirque du Soleil, she also brings a less flamboyant, more nurturing quality to the spectacle: This “colony” is a happy place with less of the precious whimsicality that sometimes made past Cirque offerings a tad precious and arch. These disparate but beautiful bugs work and play together very well.

Barthelemy Gluminea and Charles Bradbury - OvoOvo, which means “egg” in Portuguese, is also the show’s central symbol as a giant pod (that never hatches) is protectively transported around the vast tented arena and sprawling stage. It’s watched over by Michelle Matlock’s big-mama Lady Bug, Simon Charles Bradbury as the fatuous hive operator, and cute Barthelemy Gluminea as the bumptious Foreigner who clumsily courts Lady Bug. Their comic byplay always makes sense, unlike some confusing-to-irritating clown acts. So does the inevitable audience participation that they inspire as much as invite. And always in the background insect-performers busily crawl, flirt, flutter, cavort, play, work, eat and mate, just like your favorite ant farm but much more colorfully, given Liz Vandal’s entomologically awesome costumes.

But, of course, the draw in any ecosystem are the acts, organized here by splendid species. A hunky Dragonfly (Volodymyr Hrynchenko) can balance on any curve or surface and make it look so easy you hate him. Four Ants (from Asia) use their frenzied feet to balance giant kiwi slices and corn cobs, while Nadine Louis’ “cocoon” of aerial silk lets her soar as she incubates into a butterfly. To the usual Europop backdrop, two Monarch Butterflies swing on the same strap in a dangling duo that’s probably as risky as it looks, while Tony Frebourg’s sexy Firefly juggles everything with the kind of renewable energy we all long could use.

The big finales for each act are the Scarabs Volant, a flying act from Russia that sends bipedal beetles into literal flights of fancy to a contagious mambo, and the concluding Crickets, who explode all over a Trampoline-wall, bouncing over and onto an egg-filled nest as they perform achingly acrobatic flips and somersaults.

In between we get contortionist Web-Spiders, acrosporting Fleas, Li Wei’s mesmerizing Spiderman on the Ovo - Cirque du Soleil 2slackwire, and a strange dance of Legs poking out of trap doors and suggesting almost anything.

The strangest offering is the fascinatingly face-less Creatura, Lee Brearley’s marvelous amalgam of tube worms, anemones, and fleshy Slinkies. You’d swear there were two performers inside this marvelously morphing costume creation, as singularly weird a circus novelty as you’re likely to enjoy.

At the end the creepy crawlers serve themselves a giant Banquet. But it can’t be more bounteous than the glorious extravaganza enjoyed over the last two hours, as confetti butterflies explode all over the stage. Ovations for Ovo!

Rating: ★★★★

Ovo - Cirque du Soleil 3


June 30, 2011 | 1 Comment More

At the Theatre Building: "Hizzoner", "All My Love", and Meet the Artist!!


Starting Sunday, March 22nd, Diamante Productions presents All My Love, a new theatrical presentation about the perils and pitfalls of open romantic relationships, written by and starring Artistic Director Tony Fiorentino. Running through May 10th at the Theatre Building, tickets are available here. All My Love is directed by Braden Lubell, with cast members Megan Keach, Bridgette Pechman, Megan Gotz, Bryan Breau, Arianne Ellison and Walter Bezt(fyi: TalkTheatreinChicago interviewed Fiorentino in 2007)








First opening to rave reviews nearly 3 years ago, Hizzoner will be seen on stage again at the Theatre Building Chicago, running April 4 – May 17.  (We gave Hizzoner a 3-star review). Call 773.327.5252 for tickets.




Meet_The_Artist Also at the Theatre Building – Meet The Artist

Tony Award winning composer/lyricist Mark Hollmann (Urinetown) will be joined by the dynamic songwriting partnership of composer George Stiles and lyricist Anthony Drewe (Mary Poppins) on Monday, March 23 at 7pm.

TBC’s Artistic Director and conductor of our Musical Theatre Writers Workshop, John Sparks will moderate an exciting evening and discuss the creative process with these contemporary luminaries of musical theatre.  Chicago Reader’s Onstage blog has some good coverage of this event.

March 21, 2009 | 0 Comments More

Reviews: "Kooza" and "Cirque Shanghai"

Run Away and Join The Cirques!!

By Venus Zarris

I remember my first visit to the Ringling Brother’s circus at the International Amphitheater when I was a small child. Three rings of amazing delights and exotic animals were almost more than I could handle. Even in the ‘nose bleed’ seats the impact left a permanent impression. I was overwhelmed by the spectacle of it and have been a circus fan ever since.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Baily set the American standard for circus extravaganzas but since then there have been some wonderful imports that have broke the mold by reinventing the experience.

As if summer in Chicago isn’t already filled with wonderful opportunities for theatrical fun, there are currently TWO world-class circus options that are sure to thrill and amaze. Although vastly different experiences, both are equally entertaining. KOOZA – Cirque du Soleil is on the high end of production values as well as ticket price. $55-$125 per ticket may seem steep but the payoff is over 2 ½ hours of spellbinding bliss. There is a reason why Cirque du Soleil has a devoted fan base. They truly create another world, thereby making the escape from reality an absolute immersion into fantasy, before the first trick is even performed.

Cirque Shanghai: Gold, on the other hand, is lighter on production values and fantastical concept but more than makes up for this with 1 ½ hour of non-stop amazing acrobatic excellence. It possesses a beautiful charm that comes not from fabricated artifice but rather from a surprisingly heartwarming connection between the audience and the brilliant performers. At $14.50-$29.50 a ticket, it is also more family friendly as well as wallet friendly, especially during the current economic crunch.

There is something unparalleled about seeing both of these unique productions live. “Death Defying Acts” is just a circus catchphrase until you witness the dangers and dares first hand. There is nothing supernatural, but there is genuine magic created by all of these performers who have devoted their lives to becoming the best in their fields. Both Cirques are sure to rank as highlights of the summer as well as provide memories for years to come.


KOOZA – Cirque du Soleil

The spectacle is nothing short of a spellbinding, jaw dropping, eye popping, sensational, magical and death defying sensory overload. This may sound like a bag of clichéd descriptive exaggerations, when in fact they are actually understatements compared to the otherworldly delights that await you under the big blue and yellow striped tent.

Kooza2 As you walk in you are struck by the sheer magnitude of technical engineering contraptions that are implemented to execute such a grand transformation in a parking lot. The pre-show antics of the small clown troupe warm up the crowd. Normally circus clowns fall in between the range of corny to creepy but these jokers are actually hilarious.

When the show officially starts you are in for 2 ½ hours of mind boggling visceral fireworks. Between the costumes, lighting design, production design, thrilling music delivered through an acoustically perfect sound system, and best-in-their-field world class performers; ‘KOOZA’ quite simply delivers the most whimsically lavish and lovely production values. The occasional ‘jazz hands’ tossed into the playful choreography made me imagine that Bob Fosse would have adored the flawless showmanship.

'Kooza' - now playing at the United Center through September

The opening sequence starts out simple with an ‘innocent’ flying a kite. There is a lovely connection to the sweet little person but when he receives a special delivery life sized jack-in-the-box and the ‘trickster’ appears all bets are off. The stage fills with color, life and sound. As the ornate three story orchestra tower is revealed there is a flashback to Japanese animator Miyazaki’s ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’. This sets the stage for an experience that actually makes the surreal visual extremes of Japanese animation seem commonplace.

Kooza8 Every act thrills, amazes and delights. ‘KOOZA’ takes personal offense to gravity, as there are several gasp inducing aerial acts. The stage is almost underused for the volume of overhead amazements but the beautiful grounded triplets of synchronized shiny contortion almost steal the show. Their flexibility is hard to describe as human and at times almost sickeningly unnatural. One maneuver resembles the deleted ‘spider scene’ from the ‘Exorcist.’

Demons, angels and everything in between captivate beyond your wildest dreams. It is hard to imagine that two men perilously spinning on a giant double wheel of death can be followed by anything, much less a pickpocket, but the acts flow brilliantly. Your nerves are given occasional breaks from the more dangerous exhibits but the thrills are constant. Cirque du Soleil’s KOOZA is an explosion of miracles that should not be missed!

Rating: ««««

(“KOOZA – Cirque du Soleilruns through August 24 at the Grand Chapiteau, United Center parking lot K, 1901 W. Madison Street. 800-678-5440)

Kooza7 Kooza9


Cirque Shanghai: Gold

Among the many amazing achievements of this foray into exotic entertainment, Cirque Shanghai: Gold illustrated a cultural difference that I had heretofore not realized. Other than a vehicle for serving food, in China, plates can be spun on the end of sticks by flexible acrobats to create dazzling visual tricks. Whereas in Greece, we get drunk, toss them on the ground and yell, ‘Opa!’

cirqueshanghai1 If you are tired of the day-to-day grind, uninspired by the offerings of summertime blockbusters or simply want to escape into the world of something unusually magical, Cirque Shanghai: Gold should not be missed! We left the show with an adrenaline rush that made us literally feel like five-year-old children. Chocked full of moments that range from ‘DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME!,’ to ‘NO WAY!,’ to ‘HOLY SHIT!,’ you cannot help but be astonished and overwhelmed by these award wining international athletic superstars.

Now, I realize that ‘Superstar’ is a word that gets thrown around quite freely in this country, but forget TV’s ‘Celebrity Circus.’ These miraculous performers are the real deal! And despite their otherworldly abilities to seemingly defy the laws of gravity and physics, these charming gymnastic geniuses perform their feats of daring acrobatic accomplishment without the slightest air of pretense or bravado. As a matter of fact, you can’t help but fall in love with their contagious warmth and humble enthusiasm. I found myself wanting to throw a party for the entire lovable cast so I could shower them with prizes and affection.

Just when you think that they can’t possibly out due the astounding act you witnessed, your jaw drops at the following flabbergaster. The flexibility alone elicits profound feelings of personal inadequacy as they do things that a normal body could only duplicate during a lethal fall down several flights of stairs!

cirqueshanghai2 As if the talent on stage isn’t enough, the exceptionally creative team behind the scenes is outstanding. Director Sylvia Hase hails from Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Emmy Award-winner Steve Base provides the conceptual design. Choreographer Brenda Didier and lighting/scenic designer Brian Sidney Bembridge, both Chicago based award-winners, round off the visionary team.

But the beautifully brilliant costumes, lighting, music and dancing pale next to these genuinely gifted performers who not only entertain beyond your wildest dreams but also serve as incomparable ambassadors of international good will. I hope that their stay in Chicago returns to them at least some of the joy that they offer everyone who watches this wonderful all-ages treat! The acrobats explode with dazzling talent making ‘Cirque Shanghai: Gold’ a spectacular display of human fireworks and 90 minutes of sheer delight!

Rating: ««««

(“Cirque Shanghai: Gold” runs through Sept. 1 at The Skyline Stage on Navy Pier. 312-902-1500)


July 18, 2008 | 3 Comments More